Advice for Employers and Recruiters

Celebrating the life of John Zappe and the focus on the candidate experience by Sonic Jobs

Shelby Konkel AvatarShelby Konkel
December 22, 2022


Create, manage, and work with Job Boards and Recruitment Marketplaces.

Each week, Steven Rothberg, Founder and Chief Visionary Officer of College Recruiter, and Peter M. Zollman, Founder of the AIM Group, along with guests from the world’s leading job sites, analyze news about general, niche, and aggregator job board and recruitment marketplace sites.

Focusing on the candidate experience:

Today our hosts are joined by Manjinder Sanga, the Head of Product for UK-based aggregator SonicJobs. Most of Manjinder’s work at SonicJobs involves engaging with job-seekers and gaining a deeper understanding of how candidates utilize their platform. Knowing how much SonicJobs prioritizes the job seekers who use their website, it’s no wonder why they refuse to run redirection ads to other job board sites. Check out the full episode to hear how this customer-driven business manages over 2 million candidates that actively use their platform.

Subscribe here to follow the Job Boards and Recruitment Marketplaces podcast and stay up to date with new episodes.

TRANSCRIPT:

Steven (00:09):

Welcome to the Inside Job Boards and Recruitment Marketplaces podcast. I’m Stephen Rothberg, the founder of College Recruiter, job search site at College Recruiter. We believe that every student in recent grad deserves a great

Peter (00:23):

Career. And I’m Peter Zalman, founding Principal of the AIM Group, the leading global business intelligence service for marketplaces and classified advertising companies. We consult with recruitment marketplaces, companies and publish aim group, recruitment intelligence, and a free weekly digest. We also host the annual Global Rebus Conference.

Steven (00:44):

This is the podcast for you to learn more about how to create, manage and work with general niche and aggregator job boards and recruitment marketplaces. Hey, Peter. Well I guess given that we’re together again, it may must mean that another week has gone by. I, I I certainly look older. Do you feel older?

Peter (01:05):

I, I feel especially older having gone through the hurricane in, in Orlando back then, man, that was ugly, ugly, ugly, ugly. I’ve covered a number of hurricanes, but this one was the worst I’ve ever gone through.

Steven (01:26):

Yeah. From what I’ve, what I heard that your wife was telling you to get the alligator and everything else outta your house, and what she really meant was her husband. But

Peter (01:37):

Hey, <laugh> no alligators in the house, but there were sharks swimming through the neighborhoods in Fort Myers and alligators in the streets even near here. But that’s not unco. The alligator part is not terribly uncommon here. Yeah. Well,

Steven (01:53):

We have ’em, well, they taste, they taste like chicken. So, so,

Peter (01:56):

So that’s, I haven’t had any alligator ever except the one that I had to, had to chase around in, in the lake, down the block from my house for two weeks probably 10 years ago. Long story. Save it for another time.

Steven (02:10):

Reason number 112, I, I don’t live in Florida, so. Yeah.

Peter (02:14):

You live in m Snow to correct. When you, when you, when you go there and from like October to May or even June sometimes. Yep. You, you’re liable to have a blizzard. So I’ll take Florida hurricanes and all.

Steven (02:31):

Yeah. And, and, and the blizzard. Not the fun kind of blizzard. Like you get a Dairy Queen. It’s, it’s, it’s the blizzard

Peter (02:37):

That

Steven (02:37):

Comes from the sky.

Peter (02:39):

I, I lived in Buffalo for five and a half years, and I went through 200 year blizzards in five years in Buffalo. It was nasty. It was na not nasty. Like this hurricane was, but nasty in a different way. Anyway,

Steven (02:53):

So I know that AIM group is following a bunch of stories in the recruitment space, and, and one, one in particular is, is a sad one. And I thought maybe we could talk about that for, for a couple of minutes.

Peter (03:05):

Yep. John Zapp, who many people in the job board recruitment marketplace community know from his work with the AIM Group, he worked with us for three years in 2004 to 2007, and then came back last year. He worked for e r e.net for 12 years and Talent, T L N T he passed away in late September. He was a good friend of both of ours. I knew him for about 35 years. Great guy excellent reporter, nominated twice for a Pulitzer Prize and just an all around super nice guy challenging at times and did not suffer fools gladly. And could be, could be very, could be very difficult. People have said the same thing about me, frankly, but happily I’m not you know, I’m not in the same cer circumstances, but John, John got a brain tumor about a year ago, and it was downhill fairly quickly. It was very sad.

Steven (04:13):

Yeah. I had the pleasure of talking with him a number of times. Mostly work related a couple times, just shooting the shit like a couple of, couple of friends. I think in person once or twice. And the way you’re describing him is exactly right. He, he could smell bullshit from a mile away, and if he asked you a question and you gave him an answer, and if it, if it wasn’t the whole truth, he knew it. And, and he was gonna dig in. And, and I heard the same thing from a number of other people that he talked with that had, he had a, a fantastic way of pulling out the information that he was looking for and yet also being more than happy to, to be corrected. Like if his, if he thought something was one thing, but it actually proved to be another he loved to learn and that it was, he was, he he’s somebody that we’ll miss.

Peter (05:09):

Yep. So in memory of John Zappe.

Steven (05:11):

Yeah, absolutely. Well, why don’t why don’t we get onto the topic for today’s episode. We’re gonna be talking a little bit about Sonic Jobs. Today’s guest is Manjinder Sanga. She’s the head of product for the UK-based aggregator Sonic Jobs. And she’s had quite an interesting journey. She’s worked in design technology education for, for 15 years, which is cool cuz she’s only 17. And headed an ed tech startup for another six years. And one of the things that she told me before we jumped on was that a common thread through her different roles is that they’ve all allowed her to act on her passion to improve. I love this to improve and impact the life chances of others through her work. And I can’t think of too many things that are more honorable. So manjinder, welcome to the Inside Job boards and Recruitment Marketplaces podcast.

Manjinder (06:07):

Thank you Steven. Delighted to be here. Hi Peter.

Peter (06:10):

Thank you for coming along for few minutes with us. Sorry to regal you with stories of John’s app, but on the other hand, we’re not sorry at all. We’re just sorry he passed on. It is good to have you mck Hill, Raja, the c e o of Sonic Jobs spoke at the Rebus Amsterdam conference in September about why Sonic Jobs refuses to run ads with redirection to other job boards or even redirection to an at t s. Can you explain why and give us some your feelings about that?

Manjinder (06:45):

Yes, absolutely. So no redirection is, is one of our philosophies that we, that we run with at Sonic Jobs and it’s it’s, it’s, it’s almost a, a bit like our ups as well because really who likes being redirected? You know, like we can talk about, you know, specific to jobs or any industry who likes to click on a button and get sent somewhere else. I think there’s that, that basic human and psychological trend that we, we, we all expect things in in the jobs industry, in any industry in technology to be done immediately. And we’ve got this expectation, which is growing more and more with, you know, the ch the children that are growing up, but also as we use technology in, in, in all of our areas of life. And I think that’s where the new no redirection comes from, because nobody wants to click on a button and be sent somewhere else. And that’s, and that’s the truth from a blue collar candidate or a white collar candidate. It’s, it’s actually true across sort of generally

Steven (07:52):

That’s, that’s really, it’s really awesome. And, and for, you know, what struck me at, at the Rec Buzz conference, it was a question from the audience to your C E O and it was kind of a will, you know, sounds nice not to redirect. I don’t really believe you, I mean, my words, not, not the actual question, but it was kinda like, really? Do you really not? And the, and the, the person in the audience basically said something like, well, but what if a customer comes to you and says, Hey, we’re gonna pay you all this money, but we need you to send those candidates to our ats. And your CEO’s response was, no. Talk with us about that because I mean, without naming names of customers, you must have had a number of occasions where it’s like, there’s a pot of gold there, and it’s guys, do we really mean this?

Manjinder (08:40):

I think there’s two, there’s two things there really. You know, the fact that we, we, we really do not redirect, we do that is an absolute certainty within Sonic Jobs. We actually try our best to ensure that our candidate experience is so smooth and so seamless that we are not repeating questions, we’re trying to get relevant information to the candidate, get relevant answers back from the candidate without any redirection. And as for partners joining us, I think that the stats speak for themselves. I think the, the, the industry set of clicks to conversion to application is around 4%, whereas we convert at around seven times higher. So obviously the, the, the, the candidate experience there is working. And as you know, we’ve got other things that keep people on do. It’s, it’s not just about keeping people on our website as well. So we’ve got something called Apply Anywhere coming out recently and also our easy apply integrations where we are not deliberately trying to keep everybody on our site, but we are actually trying to keep them where they are because it’s actually about if we, you know, if we go back to the point that you made about sort of impacting people’s lives and giving them greater chances, we can only do that by making the candidates life simpler, not the employers really, or not ours

Steven (10:08):

And the, the Apply Anywhere. Tell us about that, because if I remember from the rec bus conference, that’s an opportunity to partner with other job boards.

Manjinder (10:16):

Yes, absolutely. So when we partner with other job boards, there is simple integration that they can make. And our chatbot and our candidate experience is it comes up in a pop-up onto their website. So they click on the applied button, they get our application process being on their website, the candidate applies, we get that information, we make that application for them best along your site. They can continue to bur browse jobs.

Steven (10:43):

We’ll be back right after this break. Welcome back to the Inside Job Boards and Recruitment Marketplaces podcast.

Peter (10:59):

This is one that we didn’t talk about before, but I’m sure you can speak to it. Candidate experience is really rough for most people. The black hole, the apply and fill out the same information I’ve filled out 75 times before the get an auto reply from the company saying, we’ve received your application and we’ll be back in touch. And then you never hear anything again. Do you have any thoughts about that? Do you have any ways that any recruitment site can improve the candidate experience? Ultimately it comes down to the customer, the employer, but there are ways you can work on it. So tell us about that.

Manjinder (11:49):

Absolutely. It’s, it’s actually a lot of the work that I do is actually engaging with our candidates, understanding the sector and the actual candidate in themselves, what they’re feeling, how they want to interact with any platform, not just ours. We, you know, we do comparisons across a number of different platforms as well. You spoke about sort of, you know, the repetitive nature of going onto different websites, adding in that same information with the Apply Anywhere and Easy Imply integrations that I was speaking about. That’s something that we stop as well. And also our technology is quite sophisticated, so once you have actually put in your information and created a profile with us dependent on the job, we will only ask you the specific questions for that job. Not everything that we might need to know for every job that we’ve got or that might be relevant to you.

(12:44):

It’s, it’s about the specific one that you are applying for. So that it, that our database, it remembers who you are and it actually tailors the experience to towards the, towards the candidate. And also I think there’s, there’s, you know, especially in our industry, so we work with the blue collar jobs industry, so we, you’ve got a number of different types of blue collar jobs as well. A cleaner does not wanna be asked the same questions as a finance assistant yet they all fall into the same category. So we are also sort of working on that whole dynamic, you know dynamic CV creation, dynamic questioning of specific custom questions for specific jobs as well. But I think, I think that’s, that’s what impacts the conversion really, because we are actually listening and really trying to get to the heart of the issues for the candidate.

Steven (13:39):

You, you mentioned a, a, a minute ago that it’s a lot, it’s a big part of your job is, is that candidate experience. So maybe we can dig into your job for a second. Your job title’s head of product, which a lot of larger job boards will have, but that’s probably a job that is a mystery to smaller job boards or those that are really maybe growing rapidly, maybe very driven by the founder. So what does it mean to be a head of product? And I guess related to that, how does Sonic Child makes, does Sonic Jobs make decisions about its product?

Manjinder (14:19):

Okay, so basically the head of product is, is almost like the goal between <laugh>, which is not, not making it sound very glamorous, but the goal between and the person who’s connecting, so of the technology to the company vision to the candidate experience as well. So they, there are, there are lots of companies that are driven specifically by the CEO or by the technology. We try to basically create a balance, and I think that’s every product manager’s job as well, is to create that balance of what the company needs to grow, but also what is good for our customers and our different stakeholders, and also what technology and innovation is out there as well. And it’s, and, and it really is creating that balancing act and prioritization is a big part of it into, because we’d all love to do absolutely everything. There’s only so much time and money to do to, to to actually execute on certain things.

(15:15):

And it’s really important for a product manager to, to actually take the, when I say customer, I mean candidate. We are a customer focused business and I think that’s one of the things that a product manager, you know, you need to be a customer driven business because if you don’t have the candidates, you won’t have the employers, you won’t have the job boards trying to integrate you with you. So we’ve got to really always focus on the, the customer as well. But at the same time, if we didn’t have the technology in place, we wouldn’t be able to do that. And if we didn’t have the commercial reasons and the commercial problems, who, you know, so again, it, it is that balance. But we are, for Sonic Jobs, we are super cu customer focused as well.

Peter (15:58):

We’re gonna give you the rare opportunity. We don’t usually do this, but we’re gonna give you the rare opportunity. Give us the one minute Sonic Jobs commercial, tell us about Sonic Jobs because people may not know your, your, your Geo Geographics, your demographics, how long ago it was founded and that sort of thing. And I’ve got the, I’ve got my eyes on the, I’ve got my eyes on the timer, so you get one minute <laugh>.

Manjinder (16:26):

Oh, lovely. Okay. Sonic Jo, I haven’t actually practiced this at all, but let’s go. Sonic Jobs was founded in 2017 by Miel Raja, and we have two other co-founders. We started off as an app in the hospitality in catering industry. We have now got a focus on the blue collar industry. We convert at seven times higher conversion than other job boards. We are super customer focused trying to make sure that the candidate experience is seamless and intuitive so that applications can be made and opportunities can be created for the blue collar industry. We operate in <laugh>, the UK and the us. We’ve got over 2 million candidates who use Sonic Jobs. We’ve got over a million jobs in the US which have just launched in the six last six months. God, am I outta time yet?

Peter (17:24):

<Laugh>? No, that’s perfect. That was one minute. Exactly. So that was great. And you, and you live in the Midlands or north of, north of the Midlands in the uk? Yes,

Manjinder (17:35):

Yes. I’m based in structure.

Peter (17:37):

And, and Mii is in London or is he also in your neighborhood?

Manjinder (17:42):

No, no, MII, we’ve got a very diverse team. So Mii is in London, but obviously travels of, to the US and UK at different times. And he is all over the place, but predominantly based in London. One of our co-founders is in Sardinia. We have a lot of tech of, of our tech team in Sardinia. I was actually there a few weeks ago as well. Beautiful place. We have some tech developers in India as well. And then we have a a variety of people in, in the uk.

Peter (18:13):

And how many people about this do you have working for Sonic Jobs

Manjinder (18:18):

Around 25.

Steven (18:20):

The, the million jobs in the US in the last six months is a, is a substantial number. And given that you’re not doing any redirects, that, you know, your, your pie is smaller than, than a lot of other job boards and yet you’ve, you’ve captured a fair amount of that. Are all of those jobs paid or are some of them organic? Are you, are you scraping jobs, running jobs, like without the employer’s permission in order to, to beef up the database or they all coming to you paid?

Manjinder (18:53):

So my understanding is that they all come to risk paid. And, and we’re not just sort of aggregating them. We’re obviously working with a number of different partners at the moment. Our key focus has been sort of growing this market as well.

Steven (19:06):

Wow, that’s fantastic.

Peter (19:07):

Any parting words, any last thoughts about the, the job board business, the apps, the recruitment field in general that you wanna share with us?

Manjinder (19:19):

So I’m actually quite new to the job boards industry and as you, as you mentioned before, my background has been in teaching technology and product design and then sort of working in the vocational sector. And I suppose that’s where my passion has always been. But I find it quite interesting to look across job boards and look at, and I look at a lot of other products in technology as well. And I think sometimes the job boards and the industry itself sort of, it, it looks quite self-contained. Whereas one of the things that Sonic Jobs is trying to do is actually look at innovation in different technology spaces so that we can make more of an impact in the, in the jobs and recruitment industry.

Peter (20:05):

We tend to forget in all of the KPIs and all of the technologies and all of the efforts that we make to improve a little tweak here or a little redirect there or whatever, no redirect there. That a job board has a direct, immediate personal impact on lives. And if somebody comes to Sonic Jobs or any other recruitment site and finds a new job, we have changed their life and their family’s life and the company’s business. And we tend to forget that because you focus on so many other things that we tend to forget how important it is and how meaningful it is to people who come to whatever site, Sonic jobs in your case, of course, and find a new job and how much of a change that can make in their lives. So thank you for that and thank you for being with us.

Steven (21:09):

So Ma Mangen the wanna echo what Peter said. We, we put another way, we are in an honorable profession and, and we always need to remember that. For listeners who wanna learn more or reach you how, how would you like them to do that?

Manjinder (21:23):

And so there’s the Sonic Jobs website, obviously it’s www sonic jobs.com and then my LinkedIn address I’m sure you’ll, you’ll share that on the pod podcast and I’m on Twitter and and also on Instagram and all the social media channels

Steven (21:40):

As well. Awesome. Just don’t call you at two in the morning. Right. Otherwise, otherwise happy to talk. Yeah.

Manjinder (21:46):

<Laugh>, you’d be surprised, Steven sometimes I do have calls at two in the morning when I was speaking to candidates from the us

Steven (21:53):

This is darn Americans <laugh>. Well, thank you so much for joining us. It was a real pleasure.

Manjinder (21:58):

Thank you. It’s been a delight.

Peter (22:01):

Inside job boards and recruitment marketplaces is a co-production of Evergreen Podcasts College Recruiter and the AIM

Steven (22:10):

Group. Please subscribe for free on your favorite app, review it five stars are always nice, and recommend it to a couple of people you know who wanna learn more about job boards and recruitment marketplaces.

Peter (22:22):

Special thanks to our producer and engineer, Ian Douglas. I’m your host Peters Oldman of the AIM Group, the leading global consultancy in the field of marketplaces and classified advertising. Find out more about our reports on recruitment marketplaces, job boards and classifieds, including our new recruitment marketplaces annual at aim group.com/reports.

Steven (22:47):

I’m your host, Stephen Rothberg of job search site college recruiter. Each year we help more than 12 million candidates find great new jobs. Our customers are primarily Fortune 1000 companies, government agencies, and other employers who hire at scale and advertise their jobs with us. You can reach me at stephen@collegerecruiter.com.

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